When I typed in the tried-and-true website, I received an “invalid error” telling me the site was no longer operative – uh oh! So after a little searching on the internet I found the new website. Apparently, the government changed the entire system and somehow I missed the email explaining that. Good news – found the site, typed in my user name and password – only to be told both were invalid. Oh boy – now I have a problem since the certification only had two days left before expiring.
The next step was to call the toll-free number for the help desk, and yes, you guessed it – it was invalid too! By now, my tension is mounting – how many times do I need to hear that what I’m doing is “invalid” in one day?!
Later, a friend and I were laughing over the incident at lunch. The certificate was renewed but we commented on how much pressure there is to be “valid.” What does that mean anyway? Are we just obsessed with getting it right? Surely there’s a little room for smudging the lines but apparently not online. Every website I visit these days, it seems that they want a user name and password. But the user name and password is on their terms – I’ve completely lost count of which variation, and frankly, I’m tired of being told it or I am “invalid!” What about all the times I was “valid?!” Where’s the credit for that?
We would never tell another person they are “invalid” but I do suspect that we certainly infer that message through our actions. So many times in my job, companies hire me to first validate and then correct a point of view. And while I make a good living, think about that for a minute – are you spending as much time validating other people as you do invalidating?
When my daughter was about 11, we dropped her off for choir practice at our church. This was a big trust exercise and to our dismay, we learned she’d skipped practice and hung out with friends. I remember telling her what this meant to us as a parent about trusting her – and she was crushed to disappoint us. Her body language told me that this was a heavy burden, so I explained that making a poor decision did not mean she was a bad person. Her whole demeanor changed once she was “validated.”
Here’s an interesting exercise – for one day, notice how many times you are corrected, i.e. deemed invalid, and then how many times you were supported, or validated. And then the next day, notice how many times you validate or invalidate another. Let me know which one is higher -- the world would be a better place if we just appreciated each other a little more often…